Iraqi militia parades in southern Aleppo

Video showing Harakat al Nujaba’s “preparation” for the battles in southern Aleppo

Iranian media reported the deployment of elite Iraqi and Lebanese militias in southern Aleppo proper on Monday to bolster the Assad regime’s forces. On that same day, Harakat al Nujaba – an Iraqi Shia militia backed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – released a video brandishing its forces parading in the area.

The video (above) shows hundreds of Nujaba fighters from its “Second Brigade” marching through the countryside of southern Aleppo, where fierce battles have been raging between the Assad regime and its allies and a jihadist-led rebel coalition. In the convoys, at least one Russian-made BTR-80 can be seen, along with Iranian-made Toophan anti-tank missiles, which are copies of the American-made TOW missiles. Several Iranian Safir vehicles are also present in the convoys, along with more traditional technicals, such as armed pickup trucks.

This comes just days after a Nujaba spokesman said that the militia was sending “2000 fighters” to the frontlines of southern Aleppo. This number was reported by pro-Assad media outlets and seemingly confirmed by Iran’s Fars News. These forces have participated in “many operations liberating areas” of Aleppo province, according to Fars. Nujaba’s spokesman has said that it and Hezbollah “are the twins of resistance that can never be loosened or separated.” Both groups have acknowledged fatalities, including field commanders, during the latest battle for Aleppo. (See Threat Matrix report, Iranian media report deployment of elite Iraqi, Lebanese combatants to Aleppo.)

In a video released by Ahrar al Sham, a jihadist group that models itself after the Taliban and has its own links to al Qaeda, Nujaba’s flag and several dead militants from the militia can be seen near the village of Amiriyah.

Nujaba announced on Thursday that funeral ceremonies were held in Najaf, Iraq, for 13 fighters killed in Aleppo this past week (shown below). The dead included “prominent” militia figures and a commander.

Harakat al Nujaba has long been active on the Aleppo front in the civil war in Syria. Weeks before the current battles in southern Aleppo began, the militia released a similar video showing large-scale parading in the area. In May, Nujaba acknowledged that several of its fighters were killed in battles near the town of Khan Touman. 

Last November, Akram al Kaabi, the US-designated terrorist leader of Nujaba, was spotted in Aleppo with Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force. The two were spotted together during the Assad regime’s counteroffensive on the Kweiris airbase, which was under siege by the Islamic State. Nujaba fought alongside Shia militants from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Lebanon and reportedly Iranian troops.

[For more information, see LWJ report, Assad regime, allies break Islamic State’s siege of air base in Aleppo and Threat Matrix report, Qods Force commander spotted with US-designated terrorist in Aleppo.]

Another video showing Nujaba in Aleppo:

Funeral of Harakat al Nujaba fighters who were killed during fight in in Aleppo, Syria. The funeral took place in Najaf, Iraq.

Funeral of Harakat al Nujaba fighters who were killed during fight in in Aleppo, Syria. The funeral took place in Najaf, Iraq.

Amir Toumaj is a Research Analyst at Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Caleb Weiss is a contributor to FDD's Long War Journal.

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1 Comment

  • Myrddin says:

    Okay

    They’re armed, so they are potentially dangerous to somebody – maybe themselves.

    But no body armour, no helmets, bright red sneakers ?!

    And stomping up and down with bright yellow flags ?? Not sure how well these chaps are going travel if they bump in to some of those hard fighters from the Caucasus…..

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